Category Archives: Anjani Thomas

Baby, Baby, Baby – Leonard Cohen & Anjani Sing The Blues In Norway


Leonard Cohen in stylishly scruffy mode – Norway 1985

3 Videos Of 1985 Leonard Cohen Norway Concert Surface

Two days ago, three videos, “I Tried to Leave You,” “Heart With No Companion,” and “Story of Isaac,” taken from a TV broadcast of a 1985 performance by Leonard Cohen in Kalvøya (“Isle of Calf” – near Oslo),  Norway appeared on YouTube, courtesy of kaarekjohnsen. While all three are interesting and well worth watching, the most entertaining and intriguing of the lot is “I Tried To Leave You.” (Because of YouTube’s 10 minute limit, the song requires two videos, the second of which is just over 1 minute long.)


Anjani And The Mean Streakin’ Pearl of the Pacific Blues

Then as now, “I Tried To Leave You” is used as a showcase for the band members’ talents. Unlike the contemporary rendition of “I Tried To Leave You,”1 however, the 1984 version is performed as a blues number.2

Nowhere is this more evident than in the solo by Anjani (identified as “Angie Thomas” on the TV caption) beginning at 2:36 with the salutatory appeal, “Baby, Baby, Baby,” following which Anjani  channels Ruth Brown for a few bars lamenting good love gone bad.3

Cohen’s introduction of Anjani is itself a treat:

Now we come to the girl I love, even though she has a mean streak. She translates that mean streak into passion and fire. That’s why I love her. The Pearl of the Pacific, from Honolulu, Hawaii, Ms Anjani Thomas.

Also Starring …

The video of “I Tried To Leave You” also features an impressive display of guitar skills by band members, Leonard Cohen in stylishly scruffy mode4 improvising lines and being crowned with a wreath of laurels, and a huge crowd of incredibly wholesome-looking, uniformly well-behaved Norwegians.


The Boys In The Band

“I Tried To Leave You” also serves as background for Cohen’s introductions of the band members which are generous and laudatory as those he performs in concerts now. He creates a couple of titles congruent with those he has used for band members in the World Tour. His 1984 drummer, for example, is designated the “Master of Surfaces” while his 2009 counterpart, Rafael Gayol, is labeled the  “Prince of Precision”  or “Our Timekeeper.”

Only The Lonely

And then as now, he has a special concern for those alone. In 2009, it usually takes the form of this blessing, “May you be surrounded by friends and family, and if none of these is yours, may the blessings find you in your solitude. ” In 1984, he urges his audience to remember him and his band “… even  when you find yourself alone in your room making passes at yourself.”

Update Feb 21, 2012: The original videos referenced in this post and at least two sets of replacements  have been removed because of copyright issues.

Leonard Cohen – Story Of Isaac (Kalvøya, Norway, 1985) – Removed
Leonard Cohen – Memories (Kalvøya, Norway, 1985) – Removed
Leonard Cohen – Heart With No Companion (Kalvøya, Norway, 1985) – Rmoved
Leonard Cohen – I Tried to Leave You (Kalvøya, Norway, 1985) – Removed
  1. For a recent example, see the Belfast performance “I Tried To Leave You,” which is the first video in the post, Leonard Cohen – Best Of Belfast. []
  2. None of the many versions of “How To Sing The Blues” found on the Internet (see example of these rules below) address the likelihood of a Canadian crooner and his Hawaiian back-up singer, with the non-blues name, “Anjani,” being qualified to sing the blues. The reader is thus left to his own devices. I offer the following only as a convenience in this effort:

    How To Sing The Blues

    1. Most Blues begin “woke up this morning.”

    2. “I got a good woman” is a bad way to begin the Blues, unless you stick something nasty in right away:
    I got a good woman—with the meanest face in town.

    3. Blues are simple. After you have the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes. Sort of.
    I got a good woman—with the meanest face in town.
    I got a good woman—with the meanest face in town.
    She got teeth like Margaret Thatcher and she weighs 500 pounds.

    4. The Blues are not about limitless choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch; ain’t no way out.

    5. Blues cars are Chevies, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Other acceptable Blues transportation modes include Greyhound buses and southbound trains. Walkin’ plays a major part in the Blues lifestyle. So does fixin’ to die. Blues don’t travel in Volvos, BMWs, or SUVs. Jet aircraft and state-sponsored motor pools ain’t even in the running.

    6. Adults sing the Blues. Teenagers can’t sing the Blues. They ain’t fixin’ to die yet. In the Blues, “adulthood” means old enough to get the electric chair when you shoot that man in Memphis.

    7. You can have the Blues in New York City, but not in Brooklyn or Queens. Hard times in Vermont, Tucson, or North Dakota are just depression. The best places to have the Blues are still Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City. You cannot have the blues in any place that don’t get rain.

    8. A man with male pattern baldness ain’t the blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg while skiing is not the blues. Breaking your leg when your broken-down pickup truck rolled over on it is.

    9. The following colors do not belong in the Blues: violet, beige, mauve (unless you’re truly desperate for a rhyme).

    9. You can’t have the Blues in an office or a shopping mall. The lighting is just plain wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster.

    10. Good places to have the Blues: the highway, a jailhouse, an empty bed, the bottom of a whiskey glass. Bad places to have the Blues: ashrams, gallery openings, weekends in the Hamptons, golf courses, Tiffany’s, and Ivy League institutions.

    11. No one will believe it’s the Blues if you wear a suit, unless you happen to be an old black man—and it’s an old black suit.

    12. Do you have the right to sing the Blues?
    Answer “Yes” if:
    a. your first name is a southern state—like Georgia
    b. you’re blind
    c. you shot a man in Memphis.
    d. you can’t be satisfied.
    e. you’re older than dirt
    Answer “No” if:
    a. you once were blind but now can see.
    b. you’re deaf
    c. the man in Memphis lived.
    d. you have a trust fund or an IRA.
    e. you have all your teeth
    f. you were once blind but now can see

    13. Blues is not about color, it’s about bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the blues; Gary Coleman could. Ugly old white people got a leg up on the blues. Julio Iglesias and Barbra Streisand will never sing the Blues.

    14. If you ask for water and baby gives you gasoline, it’s the Blues. Other acceptable Blues beverages are: wine, whiskey, muddy water, beer, black coffee. Blues beverages are NOT: mixed drinks, kosher wine, sparkling water, Snapple, Starbucks Frappuccino, or Slim Fast. Although Rubber Biscuits and the Wish Sandwich are famous blues snacks, better stick to common blues grub like Greasy Bar-b-que, Fatback and beans, and Government cheeze. Blues food is never: Club sandwich, Sushi, or Crème brule.

    15. If it occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it’s a Blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is a Blues death. So is substance abuse, the electric chair, or being denied treatment in an emergency room. It is not a Blues death to die during liposuction or from tennis elbow.

    16. Excellent names for female Blues singers: Sadie, Big Momma, Bessie, or Fat River Dumpling. Excellent names for male Blues singers: Willie, Joe, Little Willie, Lightning, or Big Willie. Singers with names like Muffy, Sierra, Auburn, Alexis, Gwenyth, Sequoiz, Brittany or Rainbow are not permitted to sing the Blues, no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

    17. The Build Your Own Blues Singer Name Starter Kit:
    a. Name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, Asthmatic)
    b. First name (from above lists) or name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Kiwi)
    c. Last name of a U. S. president (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.)
    Examples: Blind Lime Jefferson, Cripple Kiwi Fillmore, etc. (Okay, maybe not “Kiwi”…)

    18. I don’t care how tragic your life; if you own a computer, you cannot sing the Blues.
    You’d best destroy it. Fire, a spilled bottle of Mad Dog, or shotgun.
    Maybe your big ass woman just done sit on it. I don’t care

    19. Hey there, you can READ! This too be a big ol’ problem. Most folks singin’ the
    Blues ain’t never had much a chance for education. In the Blues… the three R’s stand
    for Railroads, Runnin’ and Rehab.

    20. It gots to be dark to sing the blues, preferably after midnight. Singin’ da blues at noon is forbidden.

    21. If none of the above works, try one last, pathetic stab at authenticity: name your guitar. Remember, Lucille is taken.

    22. Epitaph on a blues musician’s tombstone: “I didn’t wake up this morning” []

  3. I think she’s singing about good love gone bad. I can’t follow all the words but if one is singing about a love that, for example, only gets sweeter with each passing day, one is not singing the blues, is one? []
  4. Think “Miami Vice,” a 1986 episode of which would feature Cohen. See Leonard Cohen, Miami Vice Guest Star []

The Sacred Names Album – Music By Anjani, Cover Art By Leonard Cohen


Ask Anjani1

Yep, it’s another episode of your favorite game show, Ask Anjani.

Today’s contestant, Arlene (bridger15) from LeonardCohenForum, asks,

What is the origin of the cover art on The Sacred Names album?

Anjani answers:

I didn’t want my photo on the front cover, so we were searching for an idea that felt celestial and soft. After looking through many images of angels, Leonard came across a beautiful old painting (sorry, don’t remember the origins), scanned it, and worked with Photoshop to get the cover.  He made many versions with different colors and stronger lines; and he also added the Hebrew letters and more iconology.

  1. Anjani and Anjani Thomas are, for the purposes of the Heck of a Guy blog, synonymous names, both of which refer to the exotically lovely, dulcet-voiced singer best known for her Blue Alert CD and her long-term relationship with Leonard Cohen. []

Anjani Exquisite On "Innermost Door" Video


Anjani Thomas Stars On Jools Holland Show

Although Anjani sang “Innermost Door” on the Jools Holland Show as part of the promotion of the Blue Alert album two years ago, this video only recently surfaced online.1

Anjani On Jools Holland, The White Stripes, And Anjani

When asked about about this performance, Anjani responded,

I was so honored to do on this show.  Jools’ love for music and musicians is so real and supportive, and he’s a such a versatile artist that he played keyboards for The White Stripes in the same show!

This was filmed in a cavernous studio that was refrigerator cold. I could actually see my breath in the dressing room and had to wrap myself up in a towel and jump up and down to stay warm.

I was really happy that Jools’ played piano for me so I could focus on the vocal and not worry about my shivering hands.

When Meg and Jack came on the decibel level went off the charts. I have never heard a band make so much music out of guitar, bass and drums…

There was so much energy in the room it seemed to encourage the other bands on the show to play even louder to make an impression.

Talk about feeling old — I had my fingers in my ears for most of the filming! But it was a thrill and definitely the highlight of that tour.

Best Of Anjani

In light of the production values of the recording and, frigid environs notwithstanding, the quality of Anjani’s own performance, this may be  the best video (so far, at least) of her work.

Anjani-The Innermost Door (Jools Holland Show 2007)

  1. Unsurprisingly, the video I found was uploaded by a1000kissesdeep, AKA Tom Sakic of A Thousand Kisses Deep. who has a knack for finding and contributing extraordinarily rare and extraordinarily wonderful videos. []

Happy Birthday, Anjani


A Gift For Everyone On Anjani’s Birthday

To celebrate Anjani’s  birthday, I’ve put together segments of a few of her performances (especially her work with Leonard Cohen on the Blue Alert album) as well as some photos of her and screenshots from Heck Of A Guy posts about her.

Anjani, thanks for the dance.

Anjani’s Birthday Montage

Leonard Cohen – "Night Comes On" From 1985

A number of  rarely seen Leonard Cohen performances and interviews videos have been uploaded to YouTube lately. Most of them are taken from documentaries about Cohen, but some, such as the recently posted Leonard Cohen In Rare Performance Of Un As Der Rebbe Singt are films of live performances that, as far as I can determine, haven’t been widely distributed in years, if ever.

The video featured in today’s post, Leonard Cohen – Night Comes On, falls into the latter category.

The original was part of a film of the complete 1985 Warsaw concert that was never broadcast. This video copy is clearly imperfect.  The colors, for example,  never approaches  hues found in nature. Leonard gives off a red aura while Anjani, who sings backup and plays keyboard on the video, is tinted blue.1


Anjani - Unretouched screenshot from Night Comes On


Anjani - Screenshot from Night Comes On after application of industrial strength Photoshop

The sound quality, however, is good.

In any case, the video is worth watching because  (1) recordings of live performances of Night Comes On are rare and (2) it’s a fine song that somehow didn’t quite qualify for the Most Beloved Songs Of Leonard Cohen classification. Consequently, even many Cohen fans are not familiar with Night Comes On, which makes this video a special treat.

According To Cohen

Cohen elaborated on “Night Comes On” in a 1985 interview for Paroles et Musique:

…In men’s life the mother represents an authentic sense of protection, the life that strengthtens. In the second verse, there is that fight and this idea, “I’d like to pretend that my father was wrong. But you don’t want to lie, not to the young”…the father represents this idea of a war forever fought. Then there is the marriage, which develops from a romantic idea, which we can’t make last forever, to a human responsibility towards children, an ineluctable responsibility, even if these very children will move away. Then the verse, “Now I look for her always…” is in fact, and concerning my case, about a songwriter’s work. Here there is this vision of the woman, neither the mother nor the wife, but another feminine presence that touches all the others and is responsible for the songs. “I lie in her arms, she says, When I’m gone, I’ll be yours, yours for a song.” It’s the feminine Muse. The last verse deals with the street, with “going back to the world,” with friends. I like this passage, “Yes, and here’s to the few who forgive what you do, and the fewer who don’t even care!” But obviously this cannot protect us from the idea of what has been lost and will never be back. So the singer is trying to come back his way but the mother, by saying to him again and again, “Go back, go back to the world,” keeps him alive.

Leonard Cohen – Night Comes On (Warsaw, 1985)

  1. This clearly presages her “Blue Alert” album. []

Anjani Lookalikes

Today, the Heck Of A Guy facial recognition fascination focuses on Anjani Thomas.

The exotically sensuous look of the Blue Alert artist matches up with some other celebrity faces that seem, at least in retrospect, obvious.

There are also, however, pairings that are – oh, let’s describe them as “unexpected.”

lilheckWho, for example, would have suggested that Anjani (or anyone else, for that matter,  looks like Angelina Jolie and Orson Welles?

But hey, you can’t argue with Internet science.

Besides, an extra helping of the Orson resemblance genes would go a long way toward explaining the unique appearance of that baby.